A dear family friend recently shared the happy news that her son landed a plum, entry-level job at a civil engineering firm.
The experience he is about to have reminded me of the butterflies I get every time I start a new job. Regardless of whether the sign over the door changes, getting a new gig poses challenges and presents opportunities. That got me thinking about the best strategies I’ve seen for acing your first week. Surviving hours of orientation isn’t the objective. Rather, think of that first week the way contractors approach laying a foundation or framing a house. It may seem so basic as to be overlooked, but get it right and good things are likely to follow.
Here, then, are tips designed especially for marketers to get off to a fast start.
- Meet as many coworkers as possible: Before you settle into your desk chair and start sending friends and family your new email address, circulate among your new colleagues. Networking isn’t just useful for landing your job. It’s necessary for getting work done.
- Bring chocolate: The best approach I ever saw anyone take to breaking the ice in the office came about five years ago, when I witnessed a new guy carrying an enormous barrel of individually wrapped chocolates. He had just started and was in the process of visiting every cubicle to offer a candy break. Because very few can turn down chocolate, he made a lot of friends on his first day.
- Make nice with Marketing’s natural rivals: In my experience, Marketing often butts heads with Sales and Product teams. Still, we all have to figure out how to work together, and that’s much easier when you like and respect the men and women in these other departments. Offer them some chocolate right away.
- Ask Sales for an insider’s view of your top customers: When you pass by the Sales department, use your chocolate-enabled introductions to ask about your firm’s top customers. Who are they, what’s going well, what can be improved, and how can you help?
- Ask Product for a demo: As a marketer, one of the best things you can offer is a passion for consumers that rivals the passion your peers in engineering or product management will have for making the things your company offers. Use your time with Product to get to know the stuff that pays the bills, including your salary. If you’re really paying attention, you’ll be able to pair your newfound insights from Sales with what you glean about product to get a solid perspective on what you can do to grow the business.
- Schedule regularly-occurring 1:1 meetings with your boss: After the chocolate is gone and your voice is wavering, schedule a weekly meeting of no less than 30 minutes with your boss. If you’re doing your job, you’ll see or hear from your manager practically every day, but having this session will enable you to set an agenda and talk about things other than the day-to-day stuff.
- Get a buddy: Whether it’s knowing the best sandwich place in the neighborhood or which coffee machine on the floor makes the best brew, you’ll want an insider to show you the ropes. Ask HR or your manager to pair you with someone who will help you get oriented in your new role.
- Build your 90 day plan: Go back to the job description that led you to apply in the first place. Now, augment it with what you learned as you handed out candy, met with Sales and Product, and huddled with your boss. Then, ask yourself this: what quick wins can I put on the board so that after 30, 60 and 90 days, I can show my value? Make a 90 day plan that combines tactical action with a view to the long term and include a set of objectives and key performance indicators, or KPIs.
Remember that your first week isn’t just for trying out your new laptop and enrolling in health insurance. If you have a plan to hit the ground running, your first week can become the launchpad to your next job.
Matt, great blog this week.. I freelance and I use the same mode as you have described and it works. Just into my 22nd day ( calendar) of a new contract and the first week was just meeting people and understanding who is who and what makes their role tick. In just doing that I have been able to assimilate myself into the team and I am now fully included in most of the activities.
Thanks, Damien, and congrats on the successful start to your project. Your experience proves this method works regardless if your new job is permanent, part time, project-based, or an internship. Good luck on the assignment.